This week in 1969, my grandfather entered into a close relationship that would last for more than a decade.
It was something he’d craved for a while. And it brought him prolonged satisfaction, even pleasure, during a time of great change in his life.
No, no, it wasn’t what you’re thinking.
I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site that my grandpa was a Ford loyalist for much of his adult life.
And I’ve written before about his evident excitement about taking delivery of a new car — which, granted, is a pretty cool experience.
In the Sixties, my grandfather fell into a pattern of buying a new Ford every four years. He would drive the new one, while the old one went off to college with one of his kids.
First, there was a ’61 Fairlane, the arse end of which is pictured in this post. Then, there was a ’65 Fairlane, which was discussed at some length in the post linked two paragraphs ago.
Documentary evidence suggests this pattern was not coincidental, and my grandpa was plenty aware that 1969 would bring another trip to the dealership:
I love this detail — how my grandpa not only knew about the announcement of the next year’s cars, but put it on his calendar as a personal highlight of the day.
It must have been an exquisite buildup between September 1968, when Ford announced the new line, and January 1969, when my grandpa finally went in to pick his out. Perhaps his dreams were only further fired by commercials like this one:
When the big day finally came, though, my grandfather proved to be a man of noteworthy fidelity. He opted for his third straight Fairlane, in a color that the interwebs tell me was probably Wimbledon White.
It looks cop-car big in this picture, but I remember it (through a kid’s eyes) seeming modestly midsized.
The Fairlane certainly wasn’t the biggest car in Ford’s 1969 line; at least one other model, the Galaxie, had it beat for size. So did the Plymouth Satellite my folks drove, and the Chevy Impala my other grandparents drove.
The Fairlane didn’t go in for flash, with only that S-thing on the rear pillar to break up the plain, classic straight lines. This was not a car that would have drawn Smokey Bear’s attention on any American interstate of the 1970s.
I note, though, that my grandpa opted for the Fairlane 500, as opposed to the base run-of-the-mill Fairlane. You can see the model designation on the rear panel.
Not sure what those extra three numbers gave him — it certainly wasn’t sporty trim, a plush interior, or racier lines. Maybe a bigger engine? (He wouldn’t have wanted for power in any event. The base Fairlane came with a 302 cubic-inch V8, and 390- and 428-cubic-inch V8s were optional.)
Once my grandpa had ordered his dreamboat, then came the really hard part: He had to wait for it. Apparently he didn’t choose one off the lot; he had to wait for it to be assembled and shipped from Ford’s Lorain Assembly plant, near Cleveland.
And then, l0ve came to town.
Somehow, he held out another four days before going to pick it up, by which time he was so excited that he couldn’t spell “Fairlane”:
And as he got to know his new car, it showed up from time to time on his calendar:
The ’69 Fairlane served my grandparents and great-grandma for 13 years, during which time my grandpa retired, had a heart attack, became a grandfather three times over, turned 60 and then 70, and experienced any number of smaller events previously documented on this blog. The car went from an eagerly anticipated novelty to practically a member of the family.
When my grandpa finally gave in and bought his next new car, he passed the Fairlane to my Aunt Elaine and Uncle Steve, who wrung a few more years out of it. If memory serves, the engine kept running but the body finally started to go, so they got rid of it.
The ’69 Fairlane was neither the most colorful nor the most storied car in Blumenau family history, but it may have been the longest-tenured.
Which is a nice enough note on which to end an automotive love story.